Gimp Interface: Advanced Tricks and Tips

Icons, Keyboard Shortcuts, Windows, Menus and All That Jazz

Getting More Out of Gimp

I must start with an admission: there is no hacking in this article: that might be left for later videos. What we do here is to take a long hard look at the standard Gimp layout and then take the machete to it. This is a hammer and chisel facelift - nothing subtle.

On initial installation Gimp has the feel of a half-thought-through marketing scheme: the flexibility of the layout is right in your face from the get go. The second part - the part seemingly left out of the scheme - is usability which in my view is the more important aspect of marketing.

That initial layout is more Clumsy Billy than Elegant Sally when it comes to the user experience. Some people will disagree. And if you're on Linux I think you do get a better deal than Windows users: this is because of the cool way in which Linux manages windows. But the very flexibility of Gimp provides a solution for anyone who is struggling.

This video is not a recommendation for the use of Gimp - it's more a scheme which demonstrates how the flexibility of Gimp can be made to work to good positive effect for the user.


The Gimp Interface - Multi-Window Mode by Pixovert

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Most Useful Dialogues

Some of the dockable dialogues you may never use and others you may need each time you use Gimp. This is a list of what I think are the most esssential. When you first install Gimp only the layers dialogue has a shortcut and not a very good one at that. Prioritize the following dialogues when assigning keyboard shortcuts; if you find later you don't use them that often, then you can reassign the shortcuts whenever you want.

    Essential Dialogues.
  • Tool Options
  • Tools
  • Layers
  • Channels
  • Paths
  • Undo History
  • Device Status
  • Fonts
  • Document History

Most Useful Tools

Most of the tools already have shortcut keys assigned. Gimp doesn't make a distinction between menu commands and tools so the following list includes both; give these easy-to-use keyboard shortcuts and you should find you can be a lot more productive when using Gimp.

For good measure, I have included one blur filter and one masking mode.

    Essential Tools and Commands.
  • Rectangle Select
  • Elliptical Select
  • Fuzzy Select
  • Free Select
  • Colour Picker
  • Curves
  • Levels
  • Hue and Saturation
  • Desaturate
  • Invert
  • Blend (Gradient) tool
  • Crop
  • Paintbrush
  • Paths tool
  • Scale
  • Flip
  • Rotate
  • Gaussian Blur
  • Feather Selection
  • Quick Mask

The items that have not been included are not unimportant, I just don't think they get used so often as to merit the very best keyboard shortcuts available. But I will say if you do a lot of text you'll definitely want to have the Text tool high up on the list.

Gimps Keyboard Shortcut Identity Issues

Gimp has a very useful search facility in they keyboard shortcuts dialogue. But sadly poor Wilber isn't sure sometimes if he is American or British so sometimes colour is British and sometimes it is color. They numbers on the number pad are treated as different shortcuts from the numbers in the main keyboard, but there is no distinction actually shown in the keyboard shortcuts dialogue. Another thing to bear in mind is that the keyboard shortcuts dialogue has far more entries than those shown in the menu or in the toolbox. This can produce a gross tonnage of entries all with the same general name. A useful trick is to head to the bottom of the list, where you'll find the Tools and Dialogues lists which include most of the features that you are likely to use very frequently. When you get some time, I do strongly recommend taking a gander at the many varied options included in the dialogue: if you've ever wanted to set shortcuts to control layer opacity in normal operation or preview opacity when applying the Scale or Rotation tools you'll find that you can make those wishes come true.

The Gimp Interface Your Way